Communicology of Meaning A Reflection on the Concepts of Semantic Communication of Urban Buildings’ Physical Form

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Kerman Bahonar University, Kerman, Iran.


According to the communicology theory, the meaning varies based on the codes chosen within the semantic communication process. However, symbols and, even, words, in essence, are only codes. These codes and symbols are the essential elements of a conveyed message which can result in the needed effect on the person who receives the message. If the meanings could have been conveyed directly through the message, there would have been no need for the emblems or symbols in the first place, people could communicate through any language or any other system of codes, and we would all be interpreting and perceiving urban buildings in the same way, but this is not the case. Therefore, it isn’t the meaning but the message which is conveyed in semantic communication. The meaning is up to the person who receives the message, not the message. The most dominant gaps in communication probably happen because of the misassumption that the message contains the meaning and not the receiver. The information we acquire from the outside world are individual information. These information connect meanings to objects in the outside world, for each of us, in our own personal way. These meanings are individual, because they are formed based on our personal choice of interpretations of the outside world. However, there are meanings in the structure of our minds that don’t reflect the differences but are based on shared social and cultural aspects and are used in communication. Some theorists believe that human being, as an individual, cannot make complete sense of the world for himself in his mind and behave or act solely based on that. Therefore, it can be concluded that the meanings associated with the phenomenon and the existences of the outside world are the results of a series of collective cultural mutual agreements. Given this viewpoint, the way a human being perceives his cognitions and interpretations of the world outside his mind, is greatly influenced by the collective culture. Discussing the communication theory in order to cognize the communicative elements and determining their role in shared meanings is such an important and influential approach that changes the concept of semantic communication from “conveying the meaning” to “expressing the meaning”. Since the unity of meanings depends on mankind’s perceptions of the environment, a method is needed through which we can figure out the meanings that a human perceives from the environment and use it as the main source for our analysis. In other words, reading and recognizing the meanings by the user, is the main issue in this research. However in this research, meaning is generally referred to as a qualitative issue which cannot be measured. Therefore, a method is needed for figuring out the inductive meanings of the environment perceived by human. To this end, this research has tried to determine the inductive meanings of architecture and environment. This is done by using a specific method in the theory of schema. According to this theory, the world is observed through spectacles which are the creations of our own minds. This forms the schema. Yet the communal aspects of the mind’s structure necessitate each society to have its own structure of mind on semantic communications, which make it distinguishable from the other societies. In the primary method used in the theory of schema, the stimulus put into practice are only the studied words. Applying this theory to environmental psychology has led to using visual stimulus for cognizing transitive concepts. By using the superseded pattern, in this research, pictures from urban buildings in normal conditions, the way the citizens experience these conditions and their perspective are taken. Through these elements the inductive meanings of the environment is recognized and the concepts perceived by the users of the urban buildings are figured out. By using the comparative analysis method, communal shared meanings fall into three main categories, which are as follows:
1. Sensing or the objective based on recognizing the immediate and simple meanings including form, color, material and functional description
2. Cognitive or mental aspect based on implications
3. Intuition aspect that is related to the spiritual aspect and inner human forces. It happens when there is a spiritual element in the physical form.


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